London: A business delegation comprised of public and private industry players from India’s eastern states pushed for a rise in British trade and foreign investment at a forum in London this week.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) organized the event, which featured prominent business leaders from West Bengal and neighboring states.
The forum was held just over a month after the Indian government loosened rules on foreign investment in retailing and airlines in a set of "big bang" reforms to kick start a revival in the economy.
“Retail has been allowed, multi-brand retail has been allowed. Insurance and pension, I mean, either the limit has been increased or pension. There was no FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) allowed or 49 percent has been allowed. Media and broadcasting, I mean, so, now lot of liberalization is again, second phase of liberalization is happening and I think this is the right time for the investors to come and invest as Eastern India, of course, offers a great opportunity for the regions I already told you,” said that Chairman of CII eastern region, R. Agrawal.
The move, which ends more than a year of policy paralysis in New Delhi, is expected to spur growth in private investment and income.
India''s economic growth has slowed to its lowest in nearly three years and earlier on Tuesday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sharply cut its projection for GDP growth to 4.9 percent in 2012, one of the lowest official forecasts so far.
Foreign direct investment into India has fallen 67 percent since the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year in April after a record high the previous year.
Sandipan Chakravortty, Managing Director at Tata Steel Processing and Distribution, pushed the case for boosting trade between Britain and India, saying links between the two dated back to colonial times when the British established Kolkata as their capital.
“They came to Calcutta first because that was the most prosperous state, West Bengal or Bengal at that point of time in the country. It still remains. It is a question of how much of exploiting whether it is latent or whether it is there. You give me feeders some of the world’s largest iron ore deposits are in eastern region, world’s I am not talking about India. World’s largest chromium deposits which are used for stainless steel and other things are in India. One of the world’s largest aluminium deposits is in India. One of the world’s largest uranium deposits is in India. I can keep on going on,” said Chakravortty.
In addition to investment in sectors such as retail, energy and manufacturing, the delegation also appealed for an increase in skills and knowledge transfer.
“I think as the government of India puts in lot of money into this area of skills development, there are very very clear needs of working together and very very clear gaps of working together in this area, absolutely clear gaps. I can talk on this subject for hours but I just think that let us put our heads together, let us look at all these facets which my friends have talked about and then let us look at trade manpower because trade manpower is required in all these facets an then let us put our heads together and work together,” said CEO of Globsyn Technologies, Bikram Dasgupta.
Last year, bilateral trade between India and Britain had crossed the 16 billion pound mark.
The United Kingdom aims to double its bilateral trade with India by 2015 while India seeks to increase its trade with the UK to 24 billion pounds by that period.